What is Lithography

lithography is a printing procedure in which a drawing or engraving is reproduced made on the surface of a stone by stamping it on a sheet of paper.

Lithography, as a printing procedure, It was invented by the German Aloys Senefelder. in 1796.


To make a lithographic print proceeds, in general, as follows. First, an image is drawn or engraved on the lithographic stone (usually a limestone).

The stone is then covered with a thin layer of nitric acid and gum arabic, which is automatically rejected by the drawn parts due to their incompatibility.

Next, the stone is inked, and only the drawn parts will be impregnated with the ink, thanks to the natural adherence between fatty substances.

Afterwards, a sheet of paper is pressed against the lithographic stone and the impression of the image is obtained.

lithography is based on the principle of natural incompatibility between fatty and aqueous substances. So, when inking the plate, the paint will only adhere to the parts that were worked with grease, corresponding to the drawing.

It should be noted that a different stone is used for each color, which will be used each time a different ink is to be printed.

Formerly, lithography It was used for the printing of posters and the reproduction of artistic works.. Its use reached its peak in the 19th century, although later, due to the appearance of rotary presses, printing offset and the use of other more manageable materials, such as zinc, aluminum or plastic, was being relegated.

In fact, nowadays it is a technique that is in clear disuse, and that is hardly used for the reproduction of artistic works.

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Hence, in fact, its name, which is formed from the union of litho-, from the Greek λίθος (líthos), meaning ‘stone’, and –spellingwhich comes from the Greek γραφία (graphía), from the root of γράφειν (gráphein), which translates ‘to write’.

See also: Printing.